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Rockets on center Howard's short list

The SportsXchange

The Houston Rockets may put themselves in position to make a run at center Dwight Howard.

ESPN reported Friday that the Rockets have received signs that Howard may be interested in leaving the Los Angeles Lakers and coming to Houston when he becomes a free agent July 1.

Howard has reportedly let friend and Rockets guard James Harden know that he is interested. Howard and Harden are former USA Basketball teammates.

Howard will make himself available to the Rockets and Dallas Mavericks for recruiting visits after free agency begins. Other teams could be added to his list.

Harden told ESPN after the Rockets were eliminated from the playoffs that he would try to recruit free agents. The NBA does not legislate players who speak to pending free agents as part of its tampering rules.

The Rockets are reportedly looking to trade Thomas Robinson, last year's No. 5 overall draft pick, to make salary cap room to offer Howard a maximum contract.

The Lakers can offer Howard the most money to return -- five years for $120 million. Other teams can only offer Howard a four-year, $90 million contract.

Another team that may try to lure Howard is the Atlanta Hawks. With Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul angry at team owner Donald Sterling for suggesting he was to blame for coach Vinnie Del Negro's firing, he will also test free agent waters.

The Hawks are the only team that could have enough money under the cap to sign Paul and Howard, who is from the Atlanta area. Signing Paul could convince Howard to join his hometown team.
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